When it comes to estate planning at times parents may want to disinherit a child, or children. Some of us may simply want more clarity or assurance on the topic of disinheriting or making sure that an ex-friend or relationship gets nothing once we are gone. In reality if you’re worried about an ex-friend or relationship, don’t, they get nothing to begin with unless you say otherwise through a Will or Trust. When it comes to your significant other, in most states he or she, have the rights to a certain percentage of the entire estate whether you like it or not. As per disinheriting a child, it is possible to accomplish this but affirmative steps must be taken and having a good estate plan is a must. Please keep in mind disinheriting a child can prove to be difficult as emotions take over. Disinheriting a child when you have multiple children can also leave the siblings relationship at risk as the disinherited child will be angered and displeased in most scenarios with such a decision.
If you have come to terms and wish to disinherit a child it is important to seek guidance from an experienced estate planning attorney. Not all versions of estate planning are bullet proof and some may leave room for the disinherited child to contest and perhaps even overturn your wishes. For example we recently had an elderly client she was 87 years old and sharp as a whistle. At 87 she still went out to do her own grocery shopping, cooked a fresh meal every day, did her own laundry, cleaned around the house, took care of all her own bills and even did some light gardening during the summer months. When we came to visit her at the house she told us stories about her youth, her time spent with her now deceased spouse, about her travels and favorite places to visit, we discussed her grandchildren and her children she remembered even specific dates while recalling stories shocking everyone in the room with her memory. It was clear as day Suzy might have been 87 but she was sound of mind and knew exactly what she wanted when it came to her estate planning. Suzy having only two children a son and daughter wished to leave daughter everything and need help from an estate planning attorney to do so.
A parent may wish to disinherit a child for many reasons. Some may claim their child has abandoned them and hasn’t been around and deserves nothing. In Suzy’s scenario that wasn’t the case. Suzy loved both her children equally and had a great relationship with both of them. However Suzy lived in New York with her daughter who was never married and had no children of her own, while her son lived in Boston, was married with two grown children. Suzy’s daughter being in the more flexible position had given up her job about 10 years ago to come live with Suzy and then her ill but still alive husband the take care of him and now her. Suzy’s son was well of, he owned his house mortgage free along with some other investment properties, both children had graduated and have found well to do jobs for themselves, Suzy believed they were financially stable and well off. Suzy wanted to leave everything to her daughter not because she didn’t love her son but she saw this as the most logical move. She wanted to insure the wellbeing of her daughter whom she believed wasn’t capable of doing so on her own.
Now, while Suzy was adamant that her son would be okay with her wishes and believed that a simple Will was more than enough to relay and secure her wishes we did not. A good estate planner cannot let emotion come into play and must see all possible angles when creating an estate plan for their client. As far as we were concerned Suzy might have been sound of mind but she was 87 none the less and a Will must undergo probate leave their room for her son to contest it and have it thrown out. Suzy may know her children but a good estate planning attorney knows money can make people do and act in strange ways. A son being disinherited by a loving mother can be angered or feel entitled to a part of her estate. We suggest that Suzy creates an Irrevocable Trust and transfers all her assets to her daughter during life to avoid probate and the possibility of her son contesting the Will. Luckily Suzy heeded our warning and went with our advice.
If you wish to disinherit a child or children it is important to create an air tight estate plan one with little room for them to overturn it in court. For more information or to setup a free consultation with an estate planning lawyer, please contact our offices today.